Flight bookings surged by up to 15 times after Beijing relaxed quarantine rules. Picture: Pexels
Flight bookings surged by up to 15 times after Beijing relaxed quarantine rules. Picture: Pexels

Flight bookings surge as Beijing relaxes restrictions

By Reuters Time of article published May 1, 2020

Share this article:

Flight bookings surged by up

to 15 times after Beijing relaxed quarantine rules, raising hope

that a release of pent-up demand ahead of a major holiday will

breathe life into China's battered tourism industry.

The Chinese capital had until Wednesday lived under some of

the strictest novel coronavirus preventive measures in the

country, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone

arriving. That requirement was scrapped from Thursday for travellers

from low-risk areas of China, just ahead of a five-day May Day

holiday, which begins on May 1.

"It finally happened. I quickly bought a couple of air

tickets for Chengdu leaving in two days," said Zheng Lijun, 27,

a Beijing office worker.

"I've always wanted to see the pandas."

Chengdu is capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan,

where China's pandas live.

The Labour Day holiday is China's first extended break since

the easing of coronavirus lockdowns, offering a glimpse of what

travel may look like after the epidemic. The number of daily

flights in China is at 42% of pre-epidemic levels.

Data from online reservation service Qunar.com showed air

bookings out of Beijing jumped by 15 times in the first half

hour after news of the end of restrictions on Wednesday.

Searches on various travel sights including for hotels

quadrupled, it said.

Fliggy, the travel booking platform of the Alibaba Group

, said it saw orders for air tickets, in and out of

Beijing, jump more than 500% in the hour after the announcement.

Prices also rose. Zheng paid 480 yuan (R1229) for her ticket

on Wednesday. But Thursday, it had more than doubled to 1,090

yuan (R2791)

Travel booking site Trip.com said a large proportion of the

72 million yuan worth of coupons it sold at a livestreaming

event on Wednesday was purchased by Beijing-based consumers.

Many tour groups and airlines have rolled out generous

offers to spur demand.

Some tourist sites are now requiring advanced booking to

limit crowds. Some have been told to limit guests to 30% of

capacity amid lingering coronavirus worries.

The Ministry of Transport said it expected 117 million

people to travel by road, rail or air during the holiday, or

23.36 million per day, about one third the daily volume last

year.

Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager of Shanghai-based

travel agency Spring Tour, said travel agencies were still not

allowed to organise trips across provincial borders.

"But at least we have hope now," she said. 

(Reuters: Reporting by Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh

Editing by Robert Birsel)

Share this article:

Related Articles